How Tourism Protects Congo’s Gorillas

African safaris are only complete when one mentions about mountain gorilla tracking. When it comes to magical encounters in the wild, spending an hour with gorillas is such a breathtaking and emotional experience that comes once in a life time. Wildlife encounters are usually not good for conservation purposes. Where as programs where wildlife are protected and bred in captivity are the prime ones under scrutiny, it is also necessary for us to ask ourselves if tourism activities with free roaming biodiversity are ethically sound. This draws us to one of the most critical questions that; “is gorilla tracking good or bad for the conservation of these largest primates?”

Pointing out the effect of gorilla tracking on the conservation of these species is very essential given the fact that they are critically endangered. There are fewer than 900 mountain gorillas that are left in the whole world. Considering that African mountain gorillas don’t have many natural predators and that humans are the main force causing their extinction, its crucial for us to raise questions like will gorilla tracking further threaten the thriving of these endangered Apes/will it help them from extinction? Is tourism in Democratic Republic of Congo helping in gorilla protection? The major threats to these species that are still remaining on the earth include; habitat loss, poaching, spread of human infectious diseases, civil was and political unrest, illegal hunting for bush meat and trophies, human wildlife conflict and mining/oil exploration.

Primarily, spread of infectious diseases has become the most dangerous factor for gorilla conservation. Exposing then to human presence means they can easily be endangered by escalating chances of disease spread from humans to these great primates.

Gorillas share about 98% of their DNA with humans and this means they are very susceptible to human diseases especially diarrhea, scabies and tuberculosis. Unfortunately, these incredible species do not have a strong immune system as humans to help resist the diseases. In response to threat of many people getting into contact with wild mountain gorillas, Virunga National Park like any other gorilla destination have the set rules and regulations  that trekkers are always briefed on before setting into the forest to search for these species in their natural habitat.

Other measures include a must to have a gorilla permit to be allowed to track gorillas and this should be obtained in advance in DRC. They are also limited to 8 persons per day and all these are aimed at limiting the population of visitors that visit the gorilla group per day. These rules apply to almost all the 4 protected areas within the 3 destinations where these endangered apes live. Gorilla tracking in the Virunga National Park states that safeguard the health of Virunga’s gorillas, tourists will be required to put on surgical masks which will be offered when encountering the apes. There is only 1 hour for visitors to have a face to face interaction with gorillas. If you are not feeling well/have fever, diarrhea/persistent sore throat, you are advised not to go for gorilla trekking in any of these parks.

For the tour operators and accommodation facilitate which help visitors book their safaris, obtain their trekking permits and travel to and from the park, also usually up date/remind the tourists about trekking etiquettes. Another critical regulation for visitors is also to keep a distance of about 7 to 8 at all times to help reduce contacts and spread of diseases to these creatures. In case these animals come close to you are required to stand still and not to move so as to avoid irritating them.

Groups are limited to only 1 hour encounter with these creatures and only 8 persons are permitted to track one group per day. In case you sneeze/cough you are advised to cover the mouth and turn away from gorillas.

Other measures include the veterinary and health care by Gorilla Doctors, a non profit organization that offers life saving medical care not only DRC but also to Uganda and Rwanda.

For the rest of other threats especially habitat loss, poaching, hunting and human wildlife conflict; gorilla tourism sector has largely had a positive impact on the adjacent communities to the parks through uplifting them in poverty stricken areas, tourism revenue sharing, employment and other economic benefits that bring positive impacts on gorilla conservation.

Human wildlife conflict is minimized when people understand the gorilla better and have a vested interest in their survival.  Currently, they are sighted as the most income generating resources that are valuable as long term attractions. The increase in local investments both economic and social offer an impetus to conserve these wild creatures such that the rewards keep on in terms of education, health care and economic stimulation. Some of the former poachers are now helping in searching wire snares, find source of food, hunting trophies and in a long run gorillas will be conserved due to tourism and other similar social and research projects. Some of these poachers have also been employed as park rangers and now play part in protecting the apes.

In conclusion, whereas gorilla tracking does increase the risk of exposing the gorillas to human infectious, the tourism sector doesn’t undermine their conservation as a whole. Part of the benefits from tourism is given back to the community to address the community needs. This helps to encourage the communities around the park to participate in conservation of these apes.

For each traveler who purchases gorilla permit, contribute to conservation of not only the gorillas but also other wildlife. The revenue that is generated helps the park management in funding the management of the protected area, monitoring the gorillas and support patrolling operations by rangers.

Each tourist that spends a night in local lodges, hires a local tour operator, engages in local activities and eats in local restaurants helps to improve the livelihoods of community residents living in and around the park. If you are planning for gorilla safari to Virunga National Park make sure that you wear the surgical masks while with gorillas.

Reasons Why Gorilla Tourism Should Be on Your 2018 Bucketlist

Among the world’s greatest apes are Gorillas. They spend most of the life time in their natural wild though some are taken into captivity for some reasons. It is believed that Gorillas in captivity like Zoos or wildlife reservations centres exhibits a long life expectancy than those in their natural habitats. Gorillas in Captivity live longer because of proper care from human being among others. On the other hand, Gorillas in natural environment (wild) are affected by harsh weather, predators, and diseases among others.  Surprisingly, Gorillas in natural habitats are highly visited than those in captivity due to the following reasons:

Some scholars argue that, Gorillas in natural setting exhibits unique amazing behaviors than those which are used to human beings.

Gorillas in Captivity sometimes exhibit behaviors similar to those of domesticated animals like dog, rabbits and donkeys among others which human beings are used to. People always need to explore unique/ new things hence visiting Gorillas in natural habitat.

It should be noted that, in Europe there are Zoos keeping Gorillas but instead decide to go to Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo among others to see Gorillas in their natural setting. That implies that Gorillas in their natural habitat expressed amazing behaviors than those in captivity.

Gorillas in their natural setting form families/ groups produce babies and so on. Meeting a group of gorillas is amazing/ exciting than meeting individual Gorillas.

The experience trekkers go through while searching for Gorillas in their natural environment is interesting. It involves climbing hills; slope down, cross rivers, walking through slippery pass is interesting and memorable.

It’s expensive but worth undertaking – Gorilla trekking in Rwanda currently cost US$ 1500, Uganda at US$ 600, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at US$ 40 (Foreign residence cost). Despite the high costs, people prefer meeting Gorillas in natural wild to facilitate conservation process.

The desire to conserve for future generation also forces people to go gorilla trekking in their natural habitat. It is believed that part of the income from Gorilla tourism is offers to keep their well being, cater for their health and so on.

Gorilla trekking improve the health of human being – the hustle trekkers go through in trying to meet that enable them (Humans) to do exercise as they climb up and slope down. In short or long run, the former trekkers improve their health as the body gain strength to fight against disease and some cut weight.

Gorillas in the wild feeds naturally, protect their families, females cater for their young ones and so many other activities which attract people for go visit them.

Baby Gorillas are really interesting to meet in the wild. Some people believe that looking into the eye of a baby Gorilla is a life time event.

Silverbacks exhibit dramatic behaviors in the wild. The silverback contemplates fingers, fat as a wicketkeeper’s gloves, with apparent surprise, slumped back, scratches big belly, and folds their away again into a tangle of relaxed limbs.

Gorilla Trekking in the Virunga Mountains

National parks in Virunga region includes: Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Volcanoes National park (Rwanda) and Mgahinga national park in Uganda.

Virunga region is the best world’s mountain Gorilla trekking centre because of the presence of the mountain ranges. Virunga region is composed of nine Virunga mountains namely; Mt. Mikeno, Mt. Bisoke, Mt. Karismbi. Mt. Muhabura, Mt. sabyinyo, Mt. Gahinga, Mt. Karisoke, Mt, Nyamuragira and Mt. Nyiragongo. The list of mountain ranges gives a wonderful view while trekking Gorillas in the Virunga region.

The largest number of Mountain gorillas is found in Virunga ranges! Uganda hosts 1 habituated Gorilla group, Rwanda has 10 habituated Gorilla group and 6 gorilla groups in DR. Congo. For trekkers who want to meet a variety, Virunga region is the best option.

Where to Go Go Gorilla Trekking

In Virunga region, you can trek the mountain gorillas within their natural habita. Mountain Gorillas can be found in Mgahinga National park, Uganda and in Volcanoes National park, Rwanda.

In Virunga region, you can choose to trek Gorillas in any of the three countries since there are near each other but you can as well decide to meet gorillas of each country. It should be noted that Mgahinga National Park is situated in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National park in Democratic Republic of Congo- all the three parks are situated in Virunga region.

Trekking in the Virunga Region requires physical fitness given that it involves climbing on the slopes of Virunga Mountains to search Gorillas. The trek takes approximately 4-7 hours but rarely takes a full day. Weak, sick and aged trekkers are advised to trek in Volcanoes national Park since some Gorilla groups there are found after few minutes’ walk from the park headquarter. In other word, Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is less strenuous than in Uganda and DR. Congo.

Getting There

Virunga region is convenient from Kigali International Airport in Rwanda; it is 2-3hours drive to Volcanoes national park from Kigali Airport, 4hours drive from Kigali Airport to Mgahinga National park and 7hours drive from Kigali Airport to Virunga national park in DR. Congo. Therefore, after trekking Gorillas, visitors can easily fly out of the region through Kigali International Airport due to its convenience.

Get Started With Planning Your Trip

The ease to get Gorilla permits –  Gorilla permits in Virunga region are easily obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority, Rwanda development boards and at DR. Congo tourism board.

Gorilla trekking in Uganda and DR. Congo takes place in tropical forest while in Rwanda; it takes place in bamboo forest. The differences in vegetation attract many to trekking Gorillas in Virunga region in order to experience different treks.

Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Forests

A Gorilla Trek within the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a highlight of all visits done in Uganda and certainly mountain gorillas are the major reason as to why very many people visit Uganda. On the other hand, Uganda is recognized as a very safe and more so secure country in which you can see these Gorillas in a serene surroundings. Find information about gorilla trekking holidays to see gorillas in the wild, how to acquire a permit, as well as tour companies arranging such treks.

Which Company Should i use for Gorilla Trekking ?

There are many credible tour operators who plan gorilla safaris to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The most popular companies include Go Gorilla Trekking, Gorilla Trek Africa, Instinct Safaris, Volcanoes Safaris, Gorilla Trekking Safaris, Gorilla Tours etc. Check out for specialist tour operators offering mountain gorilla tracking safaris in Uganda. See here a more comprehensive list of safari companies or travel agents.

When To Go To See The Mountain Gorillas In Africa?

Although tracking mountain gorillas can be conducted all year round in these two countries (Uganda & Rwanda) due to the somewhat damp seasons experienced by the national parks in which these gorillas stay, the majority of tourists prefer visiting from June to September as well as from December up to February.You can visit Bwindi at any time of the year, the low season calls for cheaper gorilla permit price. In Case you are not interested in Uganda.

For details, visit: http://www.bwindiimpenetrablenationalpark.com/gorilla-trekking

Bwindi Community Hospital to Hold a VVF/RVF Surgical Camp

Bwindi Community Hospital is holding a VVF/RVF surgical camp in the period from “Sunday October 23 till Saturday October 29”
Conditions to be worked on include;
VVF: continuous leaking of Urine
RVF: continuous leaking of stool

If you have come across any patient who require such surgery,
please ask them to contact Bwindi Community Hospital
Through +256 (0) 3928 80242

THE SURGERY IS FREE OF CHARGE

THE PATIENT AND ONE ATTENDANT WILL BE GIVEN MEALS, AND TRANSPORT REFUND.

Even if you don’t know anyone, please pass on this info, someone might be in need of this service.

Most of these ladies;
Do not go to social gatherings since they smell urine and sometimes stool.
They got the problem after spending A Lot of time in labour
They do not stay with their husbands

We are now receiving, assessing and preparing these patients for surgery

Anybody who brings such a client and it is proved that they have VVF or RVF, they will get a token of 20,000/=